We need some thugs ... we got too many nice guysPut aside the obvious irony Pacman's post-game comment in contrast to Albert Haynesworth's ruthless assault on the unprotected face of an opponent as the latter was lying on the ground. It is apparent that the Titans already have quite a lot of brutal thuggery seething just under the surface. And it is only digging them new spider holes: while Haynesworth claims that he is not a dirty player, dirty is as dirty does.
But put the irony aside for a second and reflect on how applicable Pacman's statement is to the local TV sports media, which seems to have become the soft public relations arm of the Tennessee Titans. I have been tuning in to a lot more Titan's coverage than usual lately to see how the local media would be covering their defeated streak. Where I grew up, the media was swarming and undaunted when the local sports team didn't live up to snuff. But I grew up in the Dallas area, where the Cowboys have always been put under unforgiving microscopes and intrepid spotlights. The storied glare of the New York City media is even more harsh on the Yankees, Giants, Jets, and Mets.
So, I have watched with interest the relatively easy ride the Nashville's "nice-guy" sports reporters have given the Tennessee Titans. It is not just listening to local reporters ask players and coaches over and over during the losing streak about finding "silver linings" and "bright spots" (cue News 2). It is not just that the local press did not do rookie quarterback Vince Young any favors by choosing to delay running the news of his start for days to protect him from the pressure of media glare. It is also the obvious lack of critical treatment that they initially gave Haynesworth's gridiron assault of a man lying on the ground. Channel 4's sportscaster initially said of Haynesworth's apology that he "stepped up" to do what he needed to do. Excuse me? That almost sounds like praise for a player who owes a lot more than an apology. And the main criticism that I heard on all three newscasts was that Haynesworth may have cost the Titans a win. 30 stitches precariously close to Andre Gurode's left eye, and the local media's first focus was mainly on the lost possibility of beating the Cowboys. A requisite carry-on for a sports beat should be a moral compass.
The local sportscasters must have listened to the hits Haynesworth's integrity was taking on NBC and ESPN, because since Sunday night's initial soft-peddle of the on-field stabbing (let's call it what it was), they have been willing to use words like "despicable," which only begins to describe the ferocious, criminal attack that we watched on Sunday. I am not suggesting that journalists become thugs like Pacman, but maybe if the local media had put aside their "nice-guy" relationship with the Titans from the beginning, then they wouldn't now be playing catch-up when it comes to proper criticism of the team.